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SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.
Over 1 Million Visitors to Experience Cuts at 12 Leading National Parks; Coalition of National Park Service Retirees Once Again Gets Early Read on Impact of Sequestration/
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sequestration will cut visitor access to the rim of the Grand Canyon, significantly delay the spring opening of key portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite, reduce emergency response help for drivers in the Great Smoky Mountains, limit access to the beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore, and impair the experiences in many other ways for millions of visitors at America's national parks. In addition, local, regional and state economies that depend on national parks will take huge hits as visitors are either turned away or skip visits due to the impact of the mindless sequestration budget cuts.
According to new National Park Service (NPS) information acquired by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), details are now emerging for how sequestration-related cuts will be implemented in America's national parks. Late last month, CNPSR drew attention to the NPS sequester cuts when it published internal NPS memos outlining the total dollar cuts that would be imposed on individual national parks.
Now the specific impact of the sequestration meat-cleaver on America's national parks is becoming clearer and even more alarming.
Sequestration will result in a much reduced workforce, shutdowns of certain national park areas altogether or for extended period of times, closure of visitor centers and services, restrictions on the availability of campgrounds, visitor centers, comfort stations, and trail and other backcountry access. Additionally, the ability to respond to emergencies including wildland fires will be sharply reduced.
CNPSR Spokesperson, Joan Anzelmo, former Superintendent of Colorado National Monument said: "Congress might just as well put a big "Keep Out !" sign at the entrance to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Cape Cod Seashore, and every other iconic national park in the U.S. This foolhardy path tarnishes America's 'crown jewels' and is a repudiation of the nation's national parks often touted as 'America's best idea'. Millions of Americans depend on national parks for their vacations and livelihood. Those Americans are being told that national parks don't count … that people who use national parks don't count … and that people who live and work near national parks don't count."
New NPS information highlights the following specific cuts at major parks:
CNPSR obtained and made public a National Park Service (NPS) memo and related budget documents on January 31, 2013, revealing that planning is already underway for sequestration-related budget cuts that would sharply reduce the ranks of Park Rangers and also result in deep cuts in park hours and a host of other key services that park visitors expect to receive.
According to preliminary CNPSR estimates, a 5 percent cut under sequestration to the $2.2 billion that would be remaining in the final seven months of the NPS budget would require slashing $110 million. The total budget for all non-permanent park staffs is only $150 million. If the pain of the cuts was spread across non-permanent and permanent employees in parks, it would require cutting thousands of jobs or furloughing everyone for more than a month – roughly four and a half weeks.
Nationwide, national parks support local economies in a significant way, generating $31 billion in private sector spending and 258,000 private sector jobs each year. Many parks are located in rural areas that are very dependent on these expenditures to maintain a healthy economy. CNPSR pointed to these numbers as a noteworthy and positive impact on the national economy from an agency (NPS) that receives just 1/15th of 1 percent of the total federal budget (and declining).
The over 860 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined 25,000 years of stewardship of America's most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of skills and expertise that distinguished their National Park Service careers. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former National Park Service deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, park rangers and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America's national parks on behalf of the public. For more information, visit the CNPSR Web site at http://www.npsretirees.org.
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